• BEIJING, RAW – China’s economy grew four per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, faster than expected but its weakest expansion in one-and-a-half years, National Bureau of Statistics data shows.

    Gross domestic product had been forecast to expand 3.6 per cent from a year earlier, according to a Reuters poll of analysts, slowing from 4.9 per cent in the third quarter.

    GDP grew 8.1 per cent in 2021, faster than eight per cent expected by analysts.

    On a quarter-on-quarter basis, GDP rose 1.6 per cent in October-December, compared with expectations for a 1.1 per cent rise and a revised 0.7 per cent gain in the previous quarter.

    The world’s second-largest economy got off to a strong start in 2021 as activity rebounded from a pandemic-induced slump the previous year, but it has lost steam due to a property downturn, debt curbs and strict COVID-19 curbs that have hit consumption.

    Chinese leaders have pledged more support for the economy, which faces multiple headwinds into 2022.

    China’s industrial output grew 4.3 per cent in December from a year earlier, picking up from a 3.8 per cent increase in November, official data showed.

    The figure beat expectations of a 3.6 per cent increase in a Reuters poll of analysts.

    However, retail sales in December missed expectations with only a 1.7 per cent increase from a year earlier, the slowest pace since August 2020.

    Analysts in the poll had expected them to grow 3.7 per cent after rising 3.9 per cent in November.

    Fixed asset investment rose 4.9 per cent in 2021, compared with the 4.8 per cent increase tipped by a Reuters poll and 5.2 per cent in the first 11 months of the year.